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How To Encourage Millennials To Drink Responsibly

Campaign focuses on Generation Y's sense of shame and embarrassment.

Plus Aziz
Plus Aziz on August 13, 2013. @plusaziz

Alcoholic beverages company Diageo launched ‘Think How You Drink’ as a CSR campaign to convey the importance of drinking responsibly to millennial consumers. The campaign taps into the consumer segment’s sense of shame and embarrassment in a humorous manner to avoid being ‘preachy’. The video content spotlights various drunken walk styles in a camera-phone style aesthetic to capture the humorous experience of friends recording friends that have over-indulged and made a fool of themselves on video.

We caught up with Natasha Plowman, Diageo’s Head of Responsible Marketing, to better understand their research insights, which are captured in the six bullet points below.

  • Forgotten Journeys: Over half of all males surveyed and 31% of women have been so drunk that they haven’t remembered their walk home. Drinkers aged 25-34 yr olds are most likely to do this with 58% admitting memory loss. The least likely group is 55+ but still as many as 30% have had no memories of drunken journeys back. Alarmingly, 1 in 10 people questioned will forget between 4-5 walks home each year and 18-24 yr olds will forget 6-9 walks due to alcohol.
  • Drunken Embarrassment: 40% of women admit to being embarrassed by drunken pictures/ videos of themselves whereas 30% of men were unconcerned. The most embarrassed age-group is 18-24 yr olds with 47% – only 21% 55+yr olds admit to being embarrassed.
  • Requests to Remove: 16% of all respondents have asked people to remove embarrassing material of them drunk. People from East Anglia are most likely to ask friend to remove them with 21%. By far the highest age group asking for content to be removed is 18-24yr olds with 40%
  • Sorry State: Men are the most apologetic for their drunken behavior, with 36% having to say sorry. Although 50% of women are embarrassed by their behavior only 28% will apologize for it
  • The ‘Big Night with Friends’: By far the most common reason for embarrassing drunk behavior is a ‘big night out with mates’ with 30%. Although festival season is in full-swing, less than 1% cited a music festival as an event where they were embarrassed by their drunken behavior
  • Social Judges: Women are most likely to judge people based on pictures or video of them drunk on social media with 47%, compared to 38% of men. Northern Ireland is the most judgmental area (57%) and 18-24 yr old drinkers are the most judgmental age group with 65%

Tell us about your vision for millennials and their relationship to your brand(s).

Typically the more ‘consumer’ facing work undertaken by Diageo comes from the brands themselves – like Captain Morgan, Smirnoff and Guinness, which are globally recognized and are in constant dialogue with their consumers. However, as an industry leader we also believe that we have a responsibility to talk to our audiences with our corporate brand, Diageo, alongside our consumer brands on issues that are of important to us. Promoting and marketing the responsible consumption of alcohol is critical to that, as we take pride in being a trusted and respected consumer goods company.
We know that Millennials don’t engage in dialogue with brands that ‘preach’ at them or tell them how to live their lives. We believe it is far more effective to provide tools and content that they can relate to. We take responsible marketing seriously and our brands have a role in marketing responsibility alongside campaigns, like this one, that delivers a message to a broad audience in a single, consistent voice.
How does Diageo’s think about millennials and their unique drinking/social habits.
From the perspective of the ‘Think How You Drink’ campaign, we know that the age group we are targeting (18 to 24 year olds) is notoriously hard to reach with a message that they can’t relate to, while also being saturated with diverse content. We looked into what would be the most effective way to reach that age group and the evidence suggested that utilizing comedy in a disruptive way and doing so online will be an impactful way to communicate with them.
The comical tone of the online film is very significant to what we are trying to demonstrate – not being able to walk in a straight line, put your shoe back on, or stand upright, may be humorous for a couple of seconds, but the clear message at the end of the film is that there are very serious consequences that last far longer than a long stumble home or a bad hangover. We want to remind everyone of this so that they make responsible choices when it comes to drinking alcohol and providing the tools to make those choices through Ask Dave.
Your recent campaign ‘Think How You Drink’ is focused on younger generations’ sense of shame and embarrassment. Why did you focus on these emotions in particular?
We have a history of leading the industry in developing new ways to market the responsible consumption of alcohol and, like our audiences, we evolve how we communicate and use technology. What’s new here is the idea of using humor as the lead to communicate a serious message. The sense of shame and embarrassment is something that comes in once we have their attention – if we hit them with these messages first, they would quickly turn off and we would’ve failed in what we were trying to achieve.
But while you might initially laugh, I don’t think anyone will watch the video and feel that the behavior shown is something that they would not want to replicate. The actual message you take away is that I do not want this to ever be me. Humor is our method, not our message here. We genuinely want young people to think about how they drink after watching the video.
You’ve crafted quite a story with terms like ‘digital hangover’, ‘sorry state’, and ‘social judges’. How do these 6-7 concepts work together to tell a story about excessive drinking in today’s culture.
To ensure we can reach young people and start a conversation about the important issue of drinking to excess and what the potential implications can be we had to be relevant. Phrases like ‘digital hangover’ and ‘social judges’ will be easily understood with minimal explanation. Add together all the other layers of messaging, the online video itself, and it builds a compelling story to anyone drinking today.
It’s also worth noting that excessive drinking is only an issue for a minority and that the majority of people enjoy our brands responsibly. Recent reports show that binge drinking amongst the 16-24 age group has fallen by 32% since 2005 in the UK, so the message is getting across.
What’s a particularly personal moment of insight you had as you developed this campaign?
Developing this campaign, and planning to launch it across multiple countries, always brings a sense of fear and excitement! Ultimately, we knew we were basing it on solid insights and understanding of who were trying to connect with. Of course, trying a new approach always leads to lots of conversations internally, but ultimately the support from the business to approach an issue that is so intrinsic to the way we do business in a different way has certainly paid off.
Thanks Natasha!
Diageo

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